"I am not prepared to put taxpayers' money at risk" - council to offer no evidence in Barnet FC planning appeal (From Harrow Times)
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Harrow Borough Council to offer no evidence in planning inquiry over Barnet FC's Hive stadium
A councillor who voted for Harrow Borough Council not to fight Barnet FC’s planning appeal over the Hive stadium says he does not want to put taxpayer’s money at risk.
Last night a special meeting of the council’s planning committee voted not to submit any evidence to the Planning Inspectorate for the inquiry.
Barnet FC appealed after the council refused retrospective applications for a new west stand and floodlights last year.
The council's planning committee said the club had failed to demonstrate the impact of new floodlighting at the stadium, with further reasons relating to the height and scale of the west stand.
Before last night’s meeting, officers had recommended the council defended its decision principally relating to the floodlights.
However officers also recommended the committee inform the Planning Inspectorate and Barnet FC that it would not defend its decision over to the west stand.
The council’s interim director of planning Nicky Linihan told the committee last night the authority had sought independent planning advice from two consultants on the case for the west stand.
Both informed the council they would not be prepared to provide evidence to support the authority’s case.
Speaking to the committee as a backbencher, Cllr Marilyn Ashton said: “This report, which was available to the public, has given you no choice but to agree with officer’s recommendations.
“It has simply undermined any chance we had of fighting this case.”
Councillors also raised concerns that they had not been given a report from the authority’s environmental health department about the impact of the floodlights.
Cllr Keith Ferry said: “I am not prepared to put taxpayer’s money at risk for reason when we do not have the information about the lights.”
He proposed the council should not defend any of the reasons for refusal and offer no evidence to the planning inspectorate.
Members voted three in favour, three against and with one abstention, leaving the final decision to committee chairman Cllr Will Stoodley, who voted to remove all three reasons of refusal.
The decision effectively gives Barnet planning permission for changes made to the west stand of the stadium and the height of the floodlights.
The council will now inform the Planning Inspectorate about this evening’s decision, and will decide whether to continue with the appeal.
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